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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Wednesday, Massachusetts’ six-member legislative conference committee released a $41.88 billion state budget for fiscal year 2019 that reconciles the differences between the House’s and Senate’s budget proposals. The Legislature passed the budget, and it now heads to Governor Baker who has 10 days to sign it into law, and can make line item vetoes.

Massachusetts readers, take action: Ask Governor Baker to sign the budget, and continue his support of high-quality early education and care.

The committee invested in high-quality early education. Nine out of 13 line items of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) were in play because the House and Senate had funded them at different levels.

In each instance, the committee chose the higher funding level: $20 million for the early educator salary rate reserve, $10 million for a new early educator workforce development initiative, $5 million for preschool expansion, $1 million for Reach Out and Read, and more. Visit our website for details.

We thank the members of the Conference Committee:

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Boston)
Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington)
Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren)
Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka (D-Ashland)
Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem), and
Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth)

MassLive.com covers the budget here.

A Boston Globe budget story is posted here.

To advocate, send a message to Governor Baker today.

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

Every day, early educators go into classrooms and sing, read, teach, and play. They also accept a raw deal: demanding work for low pay.

How bad is it? According to the new 2018 Early Childhood Workforce Index, released by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley:

“While a major goal of early childhood services has been to relieve poverty among children, many of these same efforts continue to generate poverty in the early care and education (ECE) workforce…”

“Any woman doing ‘women’s work’ is not seen as skilled,” Marcy Whitebook told the Hechinger Report. Whitebook is the co-director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of the 2018 Early Childhood Workforce Index. “We have a history… of relying on poor women and women of color to take care of children of people who have more resources.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

In 1999, the Barr Foundation started investing in early education. Since then, Barr has generously distributed early education grants totaling more than $47 million to a number of organizations including Strategies for Children.

In 2020, Barr will sunset its giving in this sector, but as it does so, the foundation is reflecting on two decades of work, and it has posted a group of legacy early education webpages that documents its efforts.

Kimberly Haskins, Barr’s senior program officer for Cross-Program Initiatives, says:

“It is essential to invest in high-quality, developmentally appropriate learning experiences for children. To improve the experience for all children for years to come, we also need to invest in research, policy and public education. Strategies for Children and organizations that help support effective systems are critical for the longer term healthy development of children and families.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Thursday, May 10, 2018, Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka released a $41.42 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2019.

The Senate budget is slightly higher than Governor Baker’s proposal and slightly lower than the House budget.

For early education and care, the Senate budget invests $5 million in preschool expansion, increases funds for child care resource and referral agencies, and level funds most other programs. Unlike the House, the Senate budget does not include a rate reserve for early educator salaries.

The Senate budget’s executive summary states: “Skills learned in early childhood directly impact future academic achievement and personal and economic success. The Committee’s budget invests in kids beginning at birth and seeks to remove barriers to access and quality care.”

Additional reporting on the Senate budget and its implications can be found at MassLive and The Boston Globe.

The Senate will debate amendments to the budget on May 22. Visit Strategies for Children’s website for a complete list of early education line items.

Stay tuned for more information on amendments and advocacy opportunities.

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has released its annual yearbook — a comprehensive look at publicly-funded preschool programs — and found a mix of progress and stagnation: There are more preschool spots, but states aren’t investing enough in program quality. This year’s assessment also includes a special report on Dual Language Learners.

“Recent changes in federal policy – including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – make it clear that progress in early education depends more than ever on the states,” NIEER Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett said.

Looking at the 2016-2017 academic year, the Yearbook notes that:

• across the country “state-funded preschool program enrollment exceeded 1.5 million children” or “33 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds”

• state funding for preschool rose two percent to some $7.6 billion, an increase of nearly $155 million (adjusted for inflation) since 2015-2016

• state funding per child was $5,008, a slight decline from 2015-16 adjusted for inflation

• 3 state-funded preschool programs met all 10 new quality standards benchmarks

• 10 programs met fewer than half, and

• 7 states do not invest any state dollars in preschool

In its assessment of state policies for Dual Language Learners, NIEER reduces its findings to two words: “Needs Improvement.”  (more…)

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Yesterday, hundreds of early educators from across the state — many wearing green and snapping cell phone pictures – gathered for a rally at the State House steps for Advocacy Day. An upbeat band, featuring tuba and trombone players, wove through the crowd, filling Beacon Street with music.

 

Leo Delaney

 

“It really is about the workforce,” Leo Delaney said. He’s the president of the board of MADCA (the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care), and he was the first speaker. “Without quality staff, you don’t have quality.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Leaders in Ontario, Canada’s second-largest province, are talking a giant step forward: calling for a $2.2 billion plan to create full-day, fully licensed child care for “preschool children from the age of two-and-a-half until they are eligible to start kindergarten, beginning in 2020.”

Families would save some $17,000 per child.

“We listened to parents, educators and child care providers across the province, and they’ve told us this move is the right one to make,” Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario said. “This investment will make life more affordable for families and allow more parents to make the choice to go back to work, knowing their child is safe and cared for.”

Currently in Ontario, “kids are eligible for junior kindergarten in the calendar year they turn four, and senior kindergarten the year they turn five,” the news magazine Maclean’s reports, adding: (more…)

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